Tedious. Over-stated. Unthrilling. These are not adjectives you would expect to accompany a thriller directed by Neeraj Pandey whose ‘A Wednesday’ was exactly the opposite – a crisp, smart, exciting film. ‘Baby’ is a plod, to say the least, at two hours and 40 minutes as a covert division of the Indian intelligence service jet sets between Turkey, Nepal, India and Saudi Arabia (Abu Dhabi is the stand in location) trying to thwart a high-level terror attack and bring down an international terrorist network. As head of the Indian division Danny Denzongpa says at the start of the film – life had changed after the attacks of 26/11.
This covert group is lead by Akshay Kumar and consists of strong-man Rana Daggubati, computer expert Anupam Kher and operative Tapsee Pannu who has the best scene in the film when she engages in hand to hand combat with Sushant Singh.
A terrorist manages to escape police custody in an elaborately executed scene on a deserted Marine Drive during the daytime. When was the last time the busy thoroughfare was devoid of any other cars? Having escaped Kay Kay Menon reappears in Saudi Arabia along with the mastermind behind terror attacks in the region. But Baby manages to trace the terrorists and gun them down. Thereafter embarking on an elaborate and poorly executed and hardly edited climax depicting the plan to get one of the most wanted men in world out of Saudi Arabia and back to India.
Alongside runs an embarrassingly cheesy track about Ajay’s whimpering wife and two children who hope only that he returns alive from his tour. This is an unnecessary side plot that appears too often slowing down an already challenging pace of narrative. Several scenes could have been snipped and tightened to make this is a crisper thriller.
It’s thanks to Akshay Kumar’s consistent performance and a few deftly executed suspenseful scenes (that remind us of the impressive Pandey of A Wednesday) that the film does not remain in a fetal position.
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